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Ella Kasperowicz on her book #SquadGoals, finding inspiration and the importance of being yourself

17.01.20

Ella Kasperowicz is an illustrator who graduated from Falmouth University in 2017. She is the author and illustrator of ‘#Squad Goals: The Friendship Book’, published in July 2018 and the resident artist for Legs 4 Africa, a charity that gets amputees in Africa walking again.

We caught up with Ella to talk about her inspiration, overcoming creative block and what advice she would give to others starting out in the industry.

Did you always want to be an illustrator?
When I was young I actually wanted to be an author, but from high school I knew I wanted to do something with art. I’ve always loved making things, forever cutting and sticking and colouring in as a child.

Describe a typical day
I work part time as an Art and DT Technician, so my illustration tends to fit around that. However a typical illustration day starts with a bit of life admin, then I’m best at ideas in the morning and artwork in the afternoon/evening. I work from home, and recently moved out which means I have a separate ‘studio’ room dedicated to illustrating. One day I’d love to have a desk space in a big studio like at uni, but for now my little set up is perfect. If I ever get stuck or frustrated I tend to go for a stroppy walk with my headphones in and after that I’m fine! With my personal work I find I can’t force ideas, I just have to doodle about what is relevant to me at the time, what makes me laugh and what is bothering me about the world. It’s harder with commissions as you have deadlines to meet, but I always find I need a solid day to sit down, put my music on, eat loads of biscuits and smash some ideas out! Once I’m started I’m fine, but I’m definitely guilty of procrastinating for a few days and wasting valuable time. 

Where do you get inspiration from?
I take inspiration from and find humour in the everyday, my own experiences and things in the world that bother me. People always love my ‘Meat and Greet’ comic which is just about working on a meat counter for a few years as a vegetarian. Everyone at work found its popularity hilarious like ‘why do people want to read about our lives?’

You have a wonderful style, how would you describe it? How did it come about?
Thank you! I always find my style really hard to describe as it feels like my handwriting, but it’s wobbly, colourful and 2D. It developed while I was at university and got into screen and riso printing. When I produce artwork, I use a Lightbox and trace over my design in layers so that I can replicate the screen printed aesthetic on photoshop.

Is there anyone who has really influenced you in your career?
All of my tutors were amazing, both at school and university. They always had time for a chat. Illustrators that inspire me are Laura Callaghan, Lauren Humphrey and Jayde Perkin. I saw Jayde in the toilets of Elcaf last year and had a bit of a fan girl moment!

You published your first book #Squad Goals: The Friendship Book in 2018, where did that idea come from? How did you find that process?
I was really lucky with my book as I was approached by the publishers who had seen my work at a graduate show in London. They said ‘we want to make a friendship book and call it ‘#Squad Goals’, what can you come up with?’ So I went back a few weeks later with my sketchbook full of ideas, based on my own friendship group, and they were like ‘this is great, can you make 96 pages in three months?’ When I submitted all of the roughs I thought no way are they going to let me keep half this stuff in but the only things they asked me to change were little bits of text.

What advice would you give to others starting out in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. There’s lots of illustrators in the world so you’ve got to be different, and the best way to do that is by illustrating things you believe in and are interested in. Also remember to go out and have fun, because that’s going to give you your inspiration.

What are you looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forwards to more adventures, craft days in my new flat, making new comics and doing more art fairs and hopefully lots more fun commissions.

If you weren’t an illustrator what do you think you’d be doing?
I was weirdly good at Maths at school so maybe I’d be a mathematician…thankfully it didn’t come to that!

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